A lease agreement is simply a contract between a landlord and a tenant that states what the tenant will pay monthly for rent and for how long. Lease agreements, like many contracts, tend to intimidate some people because much of the language in the contract can be confusing. However, if you have a basic understanding of what is included in a lease agreement, it can help you avoid unnecessary disagreements or expenditures during or after your lease is over.
The lease agreement outlines and details the obligations and responsibilities of the landlord (lessor) and the tenant (lessee). It explains what the landlord and tenant have agreed upon in regards to length of the lease, how much the monthly rent will be, and who will be responsible for upkeep of the property. It is important for tenants to understand that a lease agreement can be altered prior to being signed. If there is something that you do not understand or agree to, or if there is a provision that needs to be altered, discuss it with the landlord prior to signing the lease.
Once your lease agreement is signed, it governs what the landlord and the tenant can and cannot do during the term of the lease. The lease agreement acts as a legal, binding contract between the landlord and tenant and will be used as such by the court if any legal proceedings arise between the two parties. If there is more than one tenant responsible for the lease, a landlord can enforce the lease against all the tenants should the need arise, so it is important for everyone involved to understand what their responsibilities are under the terms of the lease.
While most lease agreements are written, there are verbal lease agreements that can be enforced as oral contracts; however, it is important to note that not all states allow verbal residential lease agreements, and verbal commercial agreements are prohibited in every state. Tenants with verbal residential lease agreements are protected by tenants-rights laws that exist in each state. The complexity of commercial leases makes it nearly impossible to substantiate verbal agreements in court and that is why they are not allowed.
It is important to understand that lease agreements are in place to protect both the landlord and the tenant and they are not contractual traps that need to be feared by either party. The most vital thing is to maintain communication through the entire process from prior to signing the lease until its expiration. With this in mind, most situations can be solved prior to resulting in legal complications.
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